The Trentonian's Strange But True Page

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

World's hairiest man wants to carry Olympic torch

BEIJING (Reuters) - One of the world's hairiest men, who nicknames himself "King Kong", has launched a campaign to carry the Olympic Torch during the relay ahead of next year's Beijing Games, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.
"The Olympics belong to everyone -- the common people and those with abnormalities included," the report quoted Yu Zhenhuan as saying from his home in China's northeastern province of Liaoning.
"First I am a celebrity, inside and outside of China. Secondly, I think my experience in coping with a disfigurement ties in with the notion of the Olympic spirit," he added.
Hair covers 96 percent of Yu's body. He may be surpassed only by a pair of Mexican brothers: Victor "Larry" and Gabriel "Danny" Ramos Gomez, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having 98 percent hair cover.
Yu is being supported in his bid by Xing Aowei, who won a gymnastics gold medal for China at the Sydney Games in 2000, Xinhua said.
"In him, I see the perseverance and bravery of the Chinese people," Xing was quoted as saying. "I will help him with publicity and give him some ideas."
But the Beijing Games' organisers are taking a wait-and-see attitude.
"We welcome celebrities to apply to join the torch relay," Xinhua quoted a spokesman for the organisers as saying. "But it is hard to assess his chances, as the recruitment is open to everyone."

Wisconsin man wins bad writing prize

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A Wisconsin man whose blend of awkward syntax, imminent disaster and bathroom humor offends both good taste and the English language won an annual contest Monday that salutes bad writing.
Jim Gleeson, 47, of Madison, Wis., beat out thousands of other prose manglers in San Jose State University's 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with this convoluted opening sentence to a nonexistent novel:
"Gerald began — but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them 'permanently' meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash — to pee," Gleeson wrote.
Scott Rice, an English professor at San Jose State, called Gleeson's entry a "syntactic atrocity" that displays "a peculiar set of standards or values." Rice has organized the contest since founding it in 1982.
Gleeson, who works at a Madison hospital setting up computer networks, said he submitted about 20 entries, and gave a little insight into what it takes to win the bad writing title and its $250 prize.
"It's like you take two thoughts that are not anything like each other and you cram them together by any means necessary," Gleeson said. He claimed he took time off from his current project, a self-help book for slackers entitled "Self-Improvement Through Total Inactivity," to pen his winning entry.
Gleeson credited his time in college with preparing him well. "There's a certain degree to which academia prepares you to write badly," Gleeson said wryly.

News flash! Star Jones reveals secret to weight loss (duh)

NEW YORK (AP) - Trenton native Star Jones Reynolds skirted questions about her dramatic weight loss for years, saying only that she had undergone a medical intervention. That intervention, it turns out, was gastric bypass surgery.
Reynolds, 45, says she was "intentionally evasive" when people asked how she'd dropped 160 pounds in three years. She had gastric bypass surgery in August 2003.
She writes about her weight loss in a first-person essay in the September issue of Glamour magazine, on newsstands Aug. 7.
"Everything about me was already so public (mostly my own doing — talk about dumb!), so of course everyone wanted to know what I had done," she writes. "I was also terrified someone would have a tragic result after emulating me without making an informed decision with her doctor."
"But the complete truth is, I was scared of what people might think of me," she continues. "I was afraid to be vulnerable, and ashamed at not being able to get myself under control without this procedure."
Keeping her decision private made her a hypocrite, she says, because she had been so outspoken about her firing as co-host of ABC's "The View" last year.
Reynolds, who weighed 307 pounds at her heaviest, says her "out-of-control behavior" began around her 40th birthday in 2002. Feeling lonely, she turned to food for comfort and gained 75 pounds over the course of 17 months.
"I used to look in the mirror and take pride in my figure, but that was when I was legitimately a full-figured woman," she says. "I'd gradually gone from full-figured to morbidly obese."
Reynolds opted for surgery after a friend expressed concern about her weight. It was a success, she says, though she found she was "still consumed with the same anger, shame and insecurity as before."
Her husband, banker Al Reynolds, encouraged her to begin psychological therapy in the summer of 2005. She learned, among other things, that she "couldn't control what others thought," she says. She began to heal by talking openly about her weight loss to strangers.

Monday, July 30, 2007

City fights gangs with loud classical music

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - City authorities, fed up with gang activity in public places, are taking Bach their bus stop.
Transit workers are installing speakers this week to pump classical music from Seattle's KING-FM into the Tacoma Mall Transit Center. The tactic is designed to disperse young criminals who make drug deals at the bus stop or use public transportation to circulate between the mall and other trouble-prone places.
The attack by Bach, Brahms and Beethoven follows the theory that prompted the city to stage pinochle games on dangerous street corners: Jolting the routine in such spots throws criminals off balance.
"It's based on routine activity theory and situational crime prevention. You mix different types of activities in locations that are crime-ridden to change the composition of the environment," said psychologist Jacqueline Helfgott, who chairs the Criminal Justice Department at Seattle University.
Vrahmel Obleanis, 19, playing a Nintendo GameBoy at the mall bus stop, said troublemakers won't like the orchestral strains, but they'll probably just move somewhere out of earshot.
"They'll say, 'This is whack,' and go over and hang out at the mall or by Babies 'R' Us," Obleanis said. "The music isn't going to change the attitude of the kids."

Your very own panda poo

BEIJING (AP) - Nothing says "I love you" like a photo frame made from panda poop.
The Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base has come up with a dung-for-profit scheme that turns droppings from the endangered species into odor-free souvenirs ranging from bookmarks to Olympic-themed statues of the animals, state media and base officials said Monday.
The facility in the southwestern province of Sichuan houses about 40 bamboo-fed pandas who produce less than a ton of excrement a day.
"We used to spend at least 6,000 yuan ($770) a month to get rid of the droppings but now they can be lucrative," Jing Shimin, assistant to the base director, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.
The products will be made at a local handicraft company mostly from undigested bamboo culled from the panda waste through a special process, Xinhua said.
An official who answered the phone at the Chengdu facility said the dung is "carefully selected, smashed, dried and sterilized at 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit)." He refused to give his name but said the products will be of all colors because they will be dyed.
"They don't smell too bad because 70 percent of the dung is just remains of the bamboo that the pandas are unable to digest," Jing said.

They're proud of their panties

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) - Around here, history lives on with people's underwear.
Two artists are selling hot pink underwear screen-printed with the word "Ypsipanty" as part of an effort to keep alive the city's historical place in the underwear business.
Linette Lao and Mark Maynard have sold nearly 200 pair of Ypsipanties.
"We were just thinking about Ypsi-positive things that we could make," Maynard said. "And it drew on Ypsi's history as an underwear capital," he said.
Ypsilanti, about 30 miles west of Detroit, was home to the Ypsilanti Underwear Co. From its factory on the banks of the Huron River, the company at one time helped link the city's name with underwear.
The company got attention for its marketing strategies, including placing a 15-foot painting of a woman dressed in a Ypsilanti-made union suit to be seen by passengers on the Michigan Central Railroad.
Ypsilanti Underwear operated for more than 50 years in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, according to the Ypsilanti Historical Society.
Ypsipanties seller Jennifer Albaum said people approach her regularly and tell her they are wearing them.
"What other time can you tell people what underwear you're wearing? It's awesome," Albaum said.

Redheads of the world, unite!

Did you know that there are formal organizations in England devoted to protecting the rights of redheads? Here's a recent essay explaining the redheaded plight and why they have special needs.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Scientists excited after rare, extremely ugly fish is caught

A very rare coelacanth fish as Indonesian, Japanese and French specialists (unseen) carry out an autopsy of in Manado, North Sulawesi, in June. Coelacanths are among the world's oldest fish species. Their fossil records date back more than 360 million years and suggest the animal has changed little in that time.(AFP/File/Ronan Bourhis)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Man with poor sense of smell didn't notice wife's decomposing body

HARLINGEN, Texas (AP) - A man who said he has damaged nerves in his nose never smelled his wife's decomposing body in a storage room of their home and thought she had left him, police said.
The couple's daughter was looking for a cat July 15 when she found Alicia Pilouw's body in a storage room filled with household items, Eugene Pilouw said. His wife had been gone for three days.
"I never smelled anything and I still don't smell anything," said Pilouw, who blames diabetes for his damaged nose. "I thought she had run away from home again - especially after I noticed an envelope with $250 was missing."
Harlingen police expect to get toxicology test results Monday that will help them determine the 50-year-old woman's cause of death, police spokesman David Osborne said. He said that initial autopsy results were inconclusive.

Man, 88, finally promoted to Eagle Scout

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) - More than a half-century after he finished the requirements to earn the rank, an 88-year-old man was honored as an Eagle Scout on Saturday, making him possibly the oldest person to ever collect the honor.
Walter Hart couldn't become an Eagle Scout at the time he earned the rank because his service in World War II got in the way.
"I've been looking forward to this for a long time," said Hart, who lives in a retirement center in nearby Lehigh Acres.
Scout officials say he may be the oldest person to ever earn the honor.
Hart joined the Cub Scouts in 1928 in Malden, Mass., and earned 23 merit badges during his years as a Boy Scout, scouting officials said. Of the 120 merit badges available, 21 must be earned to qualify for Eagle Scout rank.
It all got set aside when he joined the Navy during World War II and served two years aboard the USS Alfred A. Cunningham.
Last year, he rediscovered some of his old Boy Scout memorabilia, including documents that showed he completed the requirements for his Eagle Scout rank. He contacted the Scouts about receiving his award.
Only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Since 1912, nearly 1.9 million Eagles have been awarded, but the recipients' ages aren't recorded, Boy Scout officials said.
"I'd be pretty surprised if anyone older has ever become an Eagle Scout," said Margie Byers, spokeswoman for the Southwest Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America.

Real-life Dr. Seuss creatures

A pair of 49-day-old emperor tamarin twins, nicknamed Rice and Beans, clutch to their dads back Friday, July 27, at the San Francisco Zoos Primate Discovery Center in San Francisco. The twins are the first emperor tamarins born at the zoo in the last 10 years and are the first for the parents Anna and Big Twin. Emperor tamarins are primates and they inhabit tropical rain forests, living deep in the forest and also in open tree-covered areas. (AP Photo/San Francisco Zoo, Amy Frankel)

Pool stolen, and they even took the water

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) - It wasn't so much someone stole her swimming pool that has a Paterson woman annoyed.
It's how the thief managed to walk away with the 1,000 gallons of water inside it without a splash, drip or trace.
Daisy Valdivia awoke to find her family's hip-high, inflatable, ten-foot diameter swimming pool gone from her back yard Wednesday.
Nothing was left behind. Not even the water.
Valdivia said the theft must have occurred between 1 a.m., when her husband went to bed, and 5 a.m., when she awoke.
She's amazed someone could steal the pool that quick and just wanted to know "what the heck they did with the water," she said.

Want great weather? Find a Jersey girl who's still a virgin

READINGTON, N.J. (AP) - Organizers think they've found the secret to good weather for this weekend's Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning - a virgin.
According to an imported superstition, good weather can be assured through a ceremony involving a virgin, some knives and fresh, whole onions and peppers.
And, no, Victoria Brumfield won't be sacrificed.
Festival organizer Howard Freeman said a colleague heard about it in Singapore several years ago. For the past two years, it has worked in Readington. Partly because of the superstition, Freeman no longer buys weather insurance for the event, which is expected to draw 175,000 people.
Brumfield, 28, has worked with Freeman in the past and is a devout Mormon, proud of her adherence to the church's rules, including not drinking, smoking, gambling or cursing - and no sex before marriage.
She became the festival's official virgin last year after her younger sister, who had that role in 2005, moved to California.
Here's how she does it: She drives a golf cart to the four corners of the festival site, picks up some grass, mumbles some random words, then penetrates the produce with a knife before jamming it and the knives into the ground. The ritual was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
The pressure is on this weekend. The National Weather Service says there's a chance of rain each of the three days of the festival, which was scheduled to start Friday.
How long can she go on doing the virtuous job?
"I might be eligible for a few more years," Brumfield said. "I'm waiting until I'm married and no one has asked yet."
It has not worked everywhere. Freeman says he used a different virgin for a festival he put on last year in Massachusetts. The driving rain broke, but strong winds kept the balloons on the ground.
Freeman said it seemed that virgin had a loose definition of "virginity."

Hot air balloon goes for world's largest condom record

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Concertgoers at a festival in the Dutch city of Lichtenvoorde were treated to an unusual sight Friday: a pink hot air balloon 127 feet high, shaped exactly like a condom, drifting lazily across the sky.
The balloon, with the words "Vrij Veilig" - Dutch for "Safe Sex" - emblazoned on it, was launched by the public health service in the eastern district of Gelre-Ijssel, near the German border.
"This is a playful way of asking for attention to the problem of sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS," said Laurent de Vries.
It took three months to design and construct the balloon in Bristol, England, and 10-15 minutes for workers from Virgin Balloon Flights Benelux BV to fill the balloon with hot air.
Organizers said they plan to submit the balloon to Guinness Book of World Records in the category of "World's Biggest Condom."

Time to change Cheney's batteries

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Dick Cheney went to the hospital on Saturday to undergo minor surgery to replace the battery that powers a device monitoring his heart rhythms.
During Cheney's annual physical last month, doctors tested his implanted cardioverter-defibrillator and learned that the battery powering the device had reached a level where replacement is recommended, Megan McGinn, deputy press secretary for Cheney, said Friday.
The surgery will be performed at George Washington University Hospital.
Dr. John Kassotis, director of electrophysiology at State University of New York's Downstate Medical Center, said doctors typically use a local anesthetic on the chest and shoulder area below the collar bone. They make an incision and remove the defibrillator's generator, detaching it from wires that are connected inside the patient's heart.
"Then, they will reconnect a new battery," Kassotis said. "They will test that everything is working appropriately, then they will suture him closed. What we do is watch the patient for about an hour, make sure that they're doing fine, and send them home."
The defibrillator monitors Cheney's heart and will deliver a shock if it ever goes out of rhythm.

Jerry Garcia's kitchen sink for sale

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The man who bought Jerry Garcia's house 10 years ago is selling everything, including the kitchen sink.
David Koltys - who sold the deceased Grateful Dead guitarist's toilet and other fixtures last year - said Friday he plans to clear out the last of his Grateful Dead inventory.
Koltys said he will offer up the home's kitchen sink, Jacuzzi, stereo speakers and several other items.
The toilet fetched $2,500 at a similar auction last year.
Like that auction, this one will benefit the Sophia Foundation, a San Francisco Bay area nonprofit that aids children and families during marital separations and divorces, Koltys said.

Friday, July 27, 2007

New Last Supper theory crashes Web sites

MILAN (Reuters) - A new theory that Leonardo's "Last Supper" might hide within it a depiction of Christ blessing the bread and wine has triggered so much interest that Web sites connected to the picture have crashed.
The famous fresco is already the focus of mythical speculation after author Dan Brown based his "The Da Vinci Code" book around the painting, arguing in the novel that Jesus married his follower, Mary Magdelene, and fathered a child.
Now Slavisa Pesci, an information technologist and amateur scholar, says superimposing the "Last Supper" with its mirror-image throws up another picture containing a figure who looks like a Templar knight and another holding a small baby.
"I came across it by accident, from some of the details you can infer that we are not talking about chance but about a precise calculation," Pesci told journalists when he unveiled the theory earlier this week.
Websites had 15 million hits on Thursday morning alone, organizers said, adding they were trying to provide a more powerful server for the sites.
In the superimposed version, a figure on Christ's left appears to be cradling a baby in its arms, Pesci said, but he made no suggestion this could be Christ's child.
Judas, whose imminent betrayal of Christ is the force breaking the right-hand line of the original fresco, appears in an empty space on the left in the reverse image version.
And Pesci also suggests that the superimposed version shows a goblet before Christ and illustrates when Christ blessed bread and wine at a supper with his disciples for the first Eucharist.
The original Da Vinci depicts Christ when he predicts that one among them will betray him.

Survey: Workers waste time reading strange but true blogs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans who feel bored and underpaid do work hard -- at surfing the Internet and catching up on gossip, according to a survey that found U.S. workers waste about 20 percent of their working day.
An online survey of 2,057 employees by online compensation company found about six in every 10 workers admit to wasting time at work with the average employee wasting 1.7 hours of a typical 8.5 hour working day.
Personal Internet use topped the list as the leading time-wasting activity according to 34 percent of respondents, with 20.3 percent then listing socializing with co-workers and 17 percent conducting personal business as taking up time.
The reasons why people wasted time were varied with nearly 18 percent of respondents questioned by e-mail in June and July said boredom and not having enough to do was the main reason.
The second most popular reason for wasting time was having too long hours (13.9 percent), being underpaid (11.8 percent), and a lack of challenging work (11.1 percent).

Shrapnel sandwich

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Sara Lee Corp. is recalling bread sold under EarthGrains, Sara Lee Delightful Wheat and several other brands because the loaves may contain small pieces of metal, the company said on Friday.
The company decided to recall the bread after it discovered damage to a whole-wheat flour sifter during a routine inspection that indicated some metal might have made its way into the bread, Sara Lee spokesman Mark Goldman said.
The bakery is still operating using bagged whole-wheat flour that does not require sifting, Goldman said,
The bread subject to recall is sold in Mississippi and Alabama, most of Arkansas, far southeastern Missouri, western Georgia, southwestern Tennessee, southeastern Louisiana and the panhandle of Florida, Sara Lee said..
The packages are stamped with "best if purchased by" dates of July 25, 2007 through August 7, 2007 and include the code "222." The bread was produced at the company's Meridian, Mississippi, bakery.

Giant wombats plot takeover of the Earth

Spanish motocycle rider Alex Bautista poses with a wombat at the Maru Koala Park, Austrlia, in September 2006. Modern wombats are about three feet long, 10 inches high and weigh 44-100 pounds. Scientists in Australia have announced that they had found the jawbone of a giant wombat the size of a large car that lived 20,000-40,000 years ago.(AFP/File/Paul Crock)

Dentist who implanted tusks in staffer wins court battle

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - An oral surgeon who temporarily implanted fake boar tusks in his assistant's mouth as a practical joke and got sued for it has gotten the state's high court to back up his gag.
Dr. Robert Woo of Auburn had put in the phony tusks while the woman was under anesthesia for a different procedure. He took them out before she awoke, but he first shot photos that eventually made it around the office.
The employee, Tina Alberts, felt so humiliated when she saw the pictures that she quit and sued her boss.
Woo's insurance company, Fireman's Fund, refused to cover the claim, saying the practical joke was intentional and not a normal business activity his insurance policy covered, so Woo settled out of court. He agreed to pay Alberts $250,000, then he sued his insurers.
A King County Superior Court jury sided with Woo, ordering Fireman's Fund to pay him $750,000, plus the out-of-court settlement. The insurance company won the next round, with the state Court of Appeals saying the prank had nothing to do with Woo's practice of dentistry. On Thursday, the state Supreme Court restored Woo's award.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

High heel racing

A woman puts on a high-heeled shoe during a high-heel race in St.Petersburg July 21. Some 100 women took part in the race wearing high-heeled shoes with a required minimum height of 9 centimetres (3.5 inches) to compete for a shopping voucher worth 50,000 roubles (about $2,000). REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk (RUSSIA)

Jersey sumo wrestler is on a diet

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) - Even sumo wrestlers can weigh too much, as Emanuel "Tiny" Yarbrough can testify. Yarbrough, a former sumo wrestling champion and nationally ranked judo competitor, is trying to lose more than 200 pounds in an effort to improve his health and possibly take to the ring again in competitive sports.
"I was sick and tired of being sick and tired," said Yarbrough, 42, describing why he decided to lose the weight. "I want to just get back to my life."
Under a doctor's supervision, he's trying to drop from a starting weight of 752 pounds to about 550 pounds, and hopefully take part next year in the U.S. Olympic judo qualifying match as well as the Sumo World Championships.
The deep-voiced Yarbrough is in some ways an oddity - a 6-foot-7 black man in a predominantly Japanese sport where he outweighs even the other heavyweights.
But his battle with the bulge reflects that of many other Americans.
Yarbrough said he didn't intentionally gain the weight for sumo. He put on the pounds the same way most people do: not enough exercise and too much eating.
His already poor eating habits didn't help. Raised in New Jersey by two parents from the South, he grew up eating a lot of fried foods. By the time he was 14, he already weighed 320 pounds.
As an adult, meals often meant fast food in bulk: a trip to McDonald's meant two Big Macs, a Filet-O-Fish, large fries and a drink; going to Wendy's usually meant ordering two burgers, a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a shake.
"It's always got to be two of something," Yarbrough said.

300 calls to 911: Hey, it's a free call and I'm out of cell phone minutes

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - A man charged with dialing 911 to chat with dispatchers nearly 300 times in the last month remained in jail Wednesday. Cheveon Alonzo Ford, 21, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with making obscene and harassing telephone calls.
He told authorities he began calling 911 because "I have no minutes on my phone and 911 is a free call," the Escambia County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
Ford was being held on a $50,000 bond Wednesday afternoon.
Officers used GPS coordinates from Ford's cell phone to track his location to the west Pensacola home where he was arrested, the Pensacola News Journal Reported.
"His phone service had been cut off and 911 was the only number he could dial from the phone," said Bob Boschen, communication chief for Escambia County.
Boschen said many of Ford's 292 calls were sexual in nature.
"When he would call and a male dispatcher would answer, he would hang up," he said. "Our policy says that if a caller is belligerent in nature we have to get enough information to process the call and then we can disconnect," he said.
Ford never asked dispatchers for help or indicated he was in trouble.

Exhibition hedgehogs cause racket with lovemaking

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police called to investigate unusual noises in the garden of a Bremen house late on Monday were surprised to find that a pair of amorous hedgehogs were to blame.
After illuminating the garden with spotlights, officers discovered the animals making love beside the pond.
"The pair were loudly engaged in ensuring the continuity of their species," said Bremen police spokesman Ronald Walther.
"All those spectators did not worry them in the least, indeed they even intensified their activities, so the officers turned off the lights," he added.
The hedgehog breeding season runs from April to September and their lovemaking is typically accompanied by very loud puffing and snorting, usually by the female as she tries to ward off the male.

People working at north, south poles go nuts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Working for long periods in the harsh and unforgiving conditions near the North and South Poles often causes people to suffer a stew of psychological symptoms dubbed "polar madness," scientists said on Wednesday.
The researchers studied the psychological effects on people from toiling in remote polar outposts, often for a year at a time, gleaning lessons they say might help prepare for lengthy human space missions in the future like a trip to Mars.
While some people on polar expeditions savor a gratifying sense of achievement, the researchers said, 40 to 60 percent of them may suffer negative effects like depression, sleep disruption, anger, irritability and conflict with co-workers.
About 5 percent of these people endure psychological disturbances severe enough to merit treatment with medication or therapy, the researchers said.
"Polar madness can take a variety of shapes," said Lawrence Palinkas, a University of Southern California anthropologist.
"Say there's somebody you go to lunch with and you don't notice the way that they eat. But if you ate with that same person day in and day out for six months, suddenly the way they chew their food is enough to drive you crazy," added Palinkas, who has ventured to the Antarctic seven times.

OK, I'm confused

Radar, a Belgian draft horse and reigning Guinness World Record holder as the 'Tallest Living Horse,' at 6ft 6in, and Thumbelina, a miniature sorrel brown mare and the world's 'Smallest Living Horse,' 17.5 inches, are united for the first time for a photo shoot that will appear in the Guinness World Records 2008 edition, on sale August 7th. (PRNewsFoto/Guinness World Records 2008 Edition)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

KITTEN OF DEATH: You don't want this cat arriving at your nursing home bed

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours.
His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.
"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.
The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.
After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.
Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.

New York City hands out condoms to seniors

NEW YORK (AP) - As volunteers in hairnets served Styrofoam cups of Jell-O to the lunch crowd at a senior center in Queens, another group of volunteers was distributing something that didn't quite fit in amid the card games and daily gossip: condoms.
"You're giving out condoms," said a wistful Rose Crescenzo, 82, "but who's going to give us a guy?"
But this was no joke. The condom giveaway is part of an effort by the New York City Department of Aging to educate older people about the risks they may face of contracting the virus that causes AIDS. After the condom giveaway, free HIV testing was offered.
AIDS education of the elderly has become an important issue as antiretroviral drugs that can keep patients living into their golden years changes the face of AIDS. Experts warn that ignorance about HIV among seniors can lead to new infections.
And those infections are happening. A physician from Howard University Hospital in Washington recently diagnosed unsuspected HIV in an 82-year-old.
So HIV educators have crafted a message of prevention and are taking it to senior centers and other locales where older people meet. They also hope to create a welcoming environment for people who already have the virus.
New York City has the most HIV cases of any U.S. city - nearly 100,000 - and is considered a leader in the area of AIDS education for seniors, with the City Council having budgeted $1 million toward HIV education for older people.
But smaller-scale campaigns are also under way elsewhere.
Nancy Orel, a professor of gerontology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, is organizing an Oct. 24 workshop for seniors that will include free condoms and HIV tests.

At least this contraption likes you

WASHINGTON (AP) - People walking by a bright red-and-white striped box on a busy street in the nation's capital may be surprised to hear a reassuring voice say, "You have nice eyes." Or, "People are drawn to your positive energy."
"The Compliment Machine" is the work of Tom Greaves, 46, a Washington artist. It's part of an exhibit of public art called SitesProject D.C.
Greaves compared the machine to children's soccer teams, where "win or lose, everyone gets a trophy."
He recorded 100 compliments, and an iPod Nano inside the machine plays them at random over a speaker — like a mechanical, speaking fortune cookie.
Greaves tweaks the compliments every night, adding some and removing others. The iPod is removed at night so it doesn't get stolen.
The machine operates from about 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day through July 27.

Party like a rock star

LONDON (Reuters) - A Middle Eastern businessman spent over $210,000 in a five-hour, champagne- and vodka-fuelled spending spree in a London nightclub at the weekend.
Fraser Donaldson, a representative of Crystal, a club favored by Prince Harry, said in 20 years working in the industry it was the biggest bill he'd seen from one customer.
The unnamed big spender entered Crystal at midnight on Saturday with friends -- nine women and eight men -- and ordered a $50 bottle of white wine, a spokesman for the club said.
But before long he was ordering magnums of Dom Perignon at $1,400 each and then called for a Methuselah -- eight bottles in one -- of Cristal Champagne at $60,000 and the party spread.
The festivities ended with a "night cap" consisting of a Methuselah of Belvedere vodka, which cost $2,800. "He basically just said, 'keep the drinks flowing,'" the club spokesman said.
When the party left at 5 a.m., the bill was 81,471.50 pounds, which with tax and service added amounted to 105,805.28 pounds -- $218,000. It included the cost of six Coca-Colas.

Squid invade California

Fishermen Gary Laufer, left red hat, Patrick Voerman, (behind) Ray Amason, and Matt Baldwin hold up Humboldt squid in this file photo taken June 4 in Ventura, Calif. The Humboldt squid, which can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 110 pounds, is invading central California waters and preying on local anchovy, hake and other commercial fish populations, according to a study published Tuesday.(AP Photo/Ventura County Star, Dana Rene Bowler)

What's your child doing on MySpace?

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking Web site — more than four times the number cited by the company two months ago, officials in two states Tuesday.
North Carolina's Roy Cooper is one of several attorneys general who recently demanded the News Corp.-owned Web site provide data on how many registered sex offenders were using the popular social networking site, along with information about where they live.
After initially withholding the information, citing federal privacy laws, MySpace began sharing the information in May after the states filed formal legal requests.
At the time, MySpace said it had already used a database it helped create to remove about 7,000 profiles of sex offenders, out of a total of about 180 million profiles on the site.
Cooper's office said Tuesday, however, that now the figure has risen past 29,000.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hmmm, how can I top Paris?

Actress Lindsay Lohan is pictured in this police booking photograph released July 24, 2007. Lohan was arrested in the Los Angeles area early this morning on suspicion of drunken driving and cocaine possession, days after she completed a 45-day rehabilitation program, authorities said. REUTERS/Santa Monica Police Dept.

What the state of retail says about customers

GOOD FASHION HARD TO FIND: It is increasingly difficult these days for a girl to go through the stage of “plain old kid,” according to a June Arizona Republic story, because clothing fashions seem to move from “toddler” directly to some form of “teen” (including “tween” and now “pre-tween”), with spaghetti-strap dresses and “ultra miniskirts,” but in tinier-than-ever sizes. In fact, reported the newspaper, GapKids recently offered a “white, crocheted string bikini you’d likely see Anna Kournikova wearing on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (except that it) was for a 12-month-old.”
THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT: Exciting New Products: (1) a washing machine with a built-in MP-3 player and speakers (U.S. patent applied for in June, from the South Korean firm LG Electronics) and (2) Liver Love, Carob Crunch, Honey Hearts and other dog treats that are marketed as snacks that owners can enjoy along with their dogs (from Britain’s Alldog Bakery), but with the principal drawback that they are more expensive per gram than lumpfish caviar or the priciest of gourmet chocolates.
LEADING ECONOMIC INDICATORS: Faced with falling prices for domestic wine, a group of French vintners has made terroristic threats against the government and retailers who carry imports. The guerrilla gang, wearing black ski masks, released a video in May (so far ignored by the Sarkozy government), reminding officials about recent incidents in which small explosives were detonated in supermarkets that carry imported wines and in which a tractor-trailer carrying imported wine had been shot at. Said one hooded protester, “Blood will flow” if prices don’t soon rise.
PET SNAKES FELL STRESSED: In June, the town council in Ledbury, England, turned down Timothy Fry’s request to be allowed to exercise his two snakes, Rose and Buddy, in the town’s park. He said he’d been letting them roam, leashless, for the last year with no complaints, but admitted that the two (a corn snake and a rat snake) were getting stressed from all the attention they have been receiving.
PARENTS WITH TOO MUCH MONEY: Backyard play sets can range in price from less than $100 to high-end outfits of $2,000 to $12,000 that would typically include fancy combinations of rock walls, rope ladders, sandboxes and tunnel slides, and maybe a tower with roofs and rotating plastic guns mounted on the walls, according to a May report in Milwaukee’s Journal Sentinel. Also available: the King Kong Carl McKee Custom, at 46 feet by 58 feet, featuring towers 16 feet high (price: about $46,000, installed).
- Chuck Shepherd, News of the Weird, Universal Press Syndicate

Was it barbecue-flavored?

HAVRE, Mont. (AP) - Frito-Lay Inc. says it will investigate a Havre man's "unsubstantiated claim" that he found a deep-fried mouse in a bag of barbecue potato chips.
Jack Hines, a 66-year-old former laborer and contractor, said he was snacking on the chips Tuesday when he pulled out the crispy rodent.
"Good thing I seen it. I got it all the way up to my mouth," he said. "I felt the fur, I brought it back down and just looked at it and threw it behind my back."
Frito-Lay was sending a representative to retrieve the bag and the mouse this weekend. Both will be shipped to company headquarters in Plano, Texas, for an investigation.
Company spokesman Jared Dougherty said a photo of the mouse makes him "very skeptical" it entered the bag during the manufacturing process. He called the case an "unsubstantiated claim."
He said his experience shows that such "foreign objects" enter the bag after the product is out of their control. Dougherty added Hines had had the bag of chips for more than two weeks, and opened it about a week before discovering the mouse.
Frito-Lay spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez said initial results could be available in just a few days.
"Our products are manufactured under the highest standards of quality assurance, so when we receive reports of alleged problems with the product, we take them very seriously," she said.
Hines said he found maggots on the mouse and chips a day after eating the chips.
A similar discovery occurred earlier this year in Colorado, Gonzalez said. An investigation in that case revealed the mouse had chewed its way into the chip bag after it had left the Frito-Lay plant.

Teens punished with 'pond squats'

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - A Malaysian teacher has defended her move to punish 170 teenage girls by making them squat neck-deep in a fish pond, in a case that has sparked concerns about abuse in schools, a report said Monday.
Wee Yim Pien, an English teacher and warden at a boarding school in Sarawak state on Borneo island, told The Star newspaper that she sent the girls into the pond for 30 minutes on Wednesday after they repeatedly ignored her warnings to stop throwing sanitary pads into toilet bowls.
Wee, 27, denied that the pond water was dirty, saying the water was often used for washing and the school had also conducted obstacle courses in the pond, the report said.
The case came to light over the weekend after Parent-Teacher Association chairman Jimmy Kiu took photographs of the incident and sent them to local newspapers to protest the harsh punishment.
Kiu, who also runs the school's catering operation, claimed it was raining heavily at the time, and some of the girls fell sick and later got rashes due to the dirty water, the New Straits Times said.

The tall naked blonde who drives the Ferrari? Oh, she's a regular

BERLIN (Reuters) - A mysterious blonde paid a visit to a petrol station shop in the small eastern German town of Doemitz on Sunday -- wearing nothing but a pair of golden stilettos and a thin gold bracelet.
The tall, slender woman strolled into the shop in the town of Doemitz on the warm afternoon and bought cigarettes, petrol station employee Ines Swoboda told Reuters on Monday.
"I wasn't surprised because she's come in naked before -- she's a very nice woman," Swoboda said, adding none of the other customers were bothered. The woman could have faced charges of creating a public disturbance if anyone had complained.
A quick-witted customer did, however, snap pictures of the woman believed to be about 30 years old as she walked back to a waiting Ferrari and climbed into the passenger seat. Several of those photos appeared in the German media on Monday.

Monday, July 23, 2007

You say 'porn star,' I say 'dancer'

NEW YORK (AP) - A man who calls himself a "mere model and dancer" can proceed with a libel lawsuit against a nightclub and a magazine that billed him as a porn star, a Manhattan judge has ruled.
State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman rejected Splash nightclub and HX Magazine's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Manuel Alex Saez for calling him "Big City Video Porn Star Alex" and allegedly using his photo without proper permission.
On its Web site, HX describes itself as "Homo Xtra, the Totally Biased, Politically Incorrect Party Paper, the hottest guide to gay nightlife and culture in New York City! In print since 1991 and on the Internet since 1995."
Alan Effron, lawyer for HX Media, said Monday that it was "unfortunate" the court failed to recognize that the Saez item was "newsworthy to its readership, and that, in simply printing the press release and photograph supplied by a historically reliable source, the magazine acted responsibly."
HX published the caption and photo as a promotional listing for his performance at Splash, a gay dance club on West 17th Street, the decision says.
"The photo depicted a 'buff,' bare-chested muscle man in open jeans," Goodman wrote in her decision.
But the judge said issues of fact remain about steps HX took steps to learn whether Saez was in fact a porn star.

Watch it, or I'll go fluffy on your ass

Tiger cubs play with rabbits at a zoo in Wenling, east China's Zhejian Province July 21. The rabbit, which did not get harmed by the cub, was playing nearby before entering the tigers' cage. It is the first time zoo staff have witnessed such an occurrence, local media reported. REUTERS/China Daily

Umm, don't try this at home, boys, for several reasons

Sadhus, or Hindu holy men perform Yoga after taking a dip in Sangam, the confluence of three rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna and the Saraswati, in the northern Indian city of Allahabad July 21. REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash

Coach of team called 'Drillers' killed by line drive

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Tulsa Drillers coach Mike Coolbaugh died Sunday night after being struck in the head by a line drive as he stood in the first-base coach's box during a Texas League game with the Arkansas Travelers, police said.
The game was suspended in the ninth inning after the 35-year-old Coolbaugh was struck by a hard-hit foul ball off the bat of Tino Sanchez and taken to Baptist Medical Center-North Little Rock.
"It's a tragedy for all of baseball," Drillers president Chuck Lamson told the Tulsa World in a story posted on the newspaper's Web site early Monday. "He just joined the staff and was a former Driller player. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Travelers spokesman Phil Elson said Coolbaugh was hit on the right side of his head or on the forehead — "I'm getting conflicting reports," he said — and fell to the ground immediately.
According to a report on the Drillers' Web site late Sunday, Coolbaugh was knocked unconscious and CPR was administered to him on the field.

U.S. charities spread porn to children of the world

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian schoolchildren who received laptops from a U.S. aid organization have used them to explore pornographic sites on the Internet, the official News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported Thursday.
NAN said its reporter had seen pornographic images stored on several of the children's laptops.
"Efforts to promote learning with laptops in a primary school in Abuja have gone awry as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials," NAN said.
A representative of the One Laptop Per Child aid group was quoted as saying that the computers, part of a pilot scheme, would now be fitted with filters.

Hey, you missed a spot over here near my lawn chair

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - One lawn care company is showing a little skin to boost business.
The women of Tiger Time Lawn Care offer to mow customers' lawns dressed in bikinis — a service that attracts more attention to the ladies than the lawns.
"Oh yeah, they honk and yell. They can do everything you can imagine," said employee Blair Beckman, 21.
Beckman said the extra attention is expected, but she looks on the bright side.
"You get the attention but you also get a tan, which I need," Beckman said.
Owner Lee Cathey said the bikini service makes mowing the lawn a lot more interesting, although the fee is slightly higher.
"The yards definitely get more attention when there's a bikini on the lawn," Cathey said. Some customers sit in lawn chairs and have a beer while watching, he said.
The three-month-old company is looking for a way to expand the service through the end of summer.
"In the fall we'll go pick up leaves in the bikinis if need be," Cathey said.
Cathey said there hasn't been any interest in a male version of the bikini lawn cut.

Who's cheatin' who, and who's bein' true?

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli man who hired a detective to find out whether his daughter was cheating on her husband was told by the investigator his wife was in fact the one being unfaithful, an Israeli newspaper reported on Sunday.
The man had his daughter followed at the request of his son-in-law, who had been suspicious of his wife's behaviour. The daughter was found innocent but the private investigator managed to snap photographs of the mother and another man caught in the act, the Maariv daily said.
"I saved my daughter's marriage and at the same time, saved myself from a woman who had it all in life but chose another man," the man, who has since sought to end the marriage, was quoted as telling his lawyer.

Maybe yapping little pocket dogs get a bad rap

MASONVILLE, Colo. (AP) - Zoey is a Chihuahua, but when a rattlesnake lunged at her owners' 1-year-old grandson, she was a real bulldog.
Booker West was splashing his hands in a birdbath in his grandparents' northern Colorado back yard when the snake slithered up to the toddler, rattled and struck. Five-pound Zoey jumped in the way and took the bites.
"She got in between Booker and the snake, and that's when I heard her yipe," Monty Long, the boy's grandfather, said Thursday.
The dog required treatment and for a time it appeared she might not survive the bites she suffered earlier this month. Now she prances about.
"These little bitty dogs, they just don't really get credit," Booker's grandma Denise Long told the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Little Stephanie? My how you've grown

LAS VEGAS - Jodie Sweetin, who starred on TV's Full House" for eight seasons, is a new bride, a celebrity Web site reported Friday.
Sweetin, 25, exchanged vows with Cody Herpin, 30, last Saturday at the Little Church of the West, a Las Vegas Strip wedding chapel, said, citing a marriage certificate from the Clark County recorder's office.
The Associated Press was attempting to reach a representative for the actress.
Sweetin played middle daughter Stephanie Tanner on "Full House." She was married for four years to a Los Angeles police officer.

Big boy

Manuel Uribe, tipping the scales at 1,234 pounds and seen here at his home in 2006, will be listed as the world's fattest man by the Guinness Book of Records, while a loss of 440 pounds may make him the man who lost the most weight. (AFP/Alejandro Acosta)

Genius criminals break into police dog facility

GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) - It's a bad idea to burglarize a place marked "K-9 training facility."
Police dog handlers arriving Wednesday at the abandoned nursing home where they hold training sessions discovered two men and a woman dismantling the building's copper pipes and wiring, Hall County Sheriff's Sgt. Kiley Sargent said.
When the officers arrived, the three dropped their tools and ran. That was their second mistake.
"For anyone to try to run from a whole unit of canines, it's just a no-win situation," Sargent said.
Pamela Puckett, 37, quickly surrendered. Marc Black, 18, was tracked to a trash bin behind a nearby convenience store. Paul Perry, 39, was treated for a superficial dog bite just below the buttocks after his arrest, authorities said.
Signs outside the northern Georgia facility warn, "Caution!!! Gainesville Police Department K-9 training facility - Keep Out."

Keeping the snakes alive

Sir Mix-A-Lot, a yellow anaconda with a tumor near his tail, is carried to a table for radiation treatment by University of Pennsylvania veterinarians Steve Kobel and Leslie Brennanis July 12 in Philadelphia. Sir Mix-A-Lot, named for the rap artist, belongs to the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Del. (AP photo)

No reason to stop drinking

The front end of a small truck touches the bar where patrons continue to drink at The Hitching Post Saloon, in Fond du Lac, Wis., Wednesday. One person was thrown 10 feet and another was nudged from his barstood by the vehicle, said Lennie Kehelski, who has owned the bar for 26 years. No one was seriously injured during the incident. (AP Photo)

World's oldest chimp dies

Sydney's Taronga Zoo's oldest Chimpanzee, Fifi eats carrots to celebrate her 60th birthday in this, May 21, 2007 file photo. Fifi, one of the world's oldest chimps and the matriarch of the 18 chimpanzees at Taronga Zoo, died in her sleep Thursday.

Freeze your ass off for elaborate photo shoot

URICH, Switzerland (AP) -- Wanted: volunteers willing to take their clothes off and have their picture taken on a freezing cold Alpine glacier.
Thousands of people pose nude for photographer Spencer Tunick May 6 in Mexico City.
The appeal by New York artist Spencer Tunick, famous for taking pictures of thousands of naked people in public settings worldwide, is intended for a photo shoot to highlight the effects of climate change on Switzerland's shrinking glaciers, environmental group Greenpeace said on its Web site Wednesday.

Greenpeace said if global warming continues at its current pace, most Swiss glaciers will disappear by 2080.
The photo shoot, which follows Tunick's previous shoots in London, Mexico City and Amsterdam, will take place in August at an undisclosed location in Switzerland.
Prospective candidates from further afield will have to start making travel arrangements now.

"We aim to make this a climate friendly event, so please come by public transport and don't fly," Greenpeace said.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Honesty in traffic signs

What the ....?

Family searches feces of money-eating dog

MENOMONIE, Wis. (AP) - Debbie Hulleman's pet dog Pepper likes to chew things. She's gnawed on lipstick canisters, shampoo bottles, ball point pens, toothpaste and now the list includes nearly $750 in cash — gobbled right down.
"This is probably the worst," Hulleman said Thursday, recalling the nasty chore of recovering the money from vomit and — you guessed it — dog piles left in the yard.
"We all laughed about it. As long as we were able to recover the money, it was funny. If I wouldn't have been able to recover it, I wouldn't have been happy," the pet owner said.
Here's Hulleman's tale about her money-eating, 8-year-old black Labrador-German shorthair:
While Hulleman and husband were on a four-day vacation in late June, she asked her mother in Oakdale, Minn., to take care of Pepper and Zach, the family's dogs.
Pepper got into a purse belonging to a friend of her mother's and chewed the cash from an envelope.
Hulleman's mother recovered some of the money that Pepper spit out, thinking she had it all. But when Hulleman returned from the trip and went to clean up her dogs' mess outside, she noticed a $50 bill hanging from one pile.
The family recovered $647 and swapped it for fresh currency at a bank.
"We have a $100 bill that can't be recovered because you need three-fourths of a bill and it is only half of a bill," Hulleman said, laughing.
The nasty chore of sorting through dog feces netted about $400, the 50-year-old dog lover said.
"It wasn't that bad. I soaked it and strained it and rinsed it. I just kept rinsing it and rinsing it. I had rubber gloves on of course," she said.
"Everyone said, 'I can't believe you did that.' Well, for $400, yeah, I would do that."

Cardboard bun story was hoax

BEIJING (AP) — A freelance reporter for a Beijing television station has been detained for faking a hidden camera report about street vendors who used chemical-soaked cardboard to fill meat buns, local media said.
The story, allegedly shot with a hidden camera, was first broadcast on Chinese TV and then created a buzz on the Internet.
The footage appeared to show a makeshift kitchen where fluffy buns were stuffed with 60 percent cardboard that had been softened in a bath of caustic soda and 40 percent fatty pork.

Woman can keep placenta

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A woman has won a court fight to keep the placenta after her daughter's birth. She had planned to grind it up and ingest it as a way to fight postpartum depression, but now plans to bury it.
The hospital had refused to give the uterine lining to Swanson following the April 12 Caesarean birth of her daughter, with officials calling it contaminated biohazardous waste.
The judge ordered the hospital not to destroy the placenta, which was frozen, and ordered that it be turned over to Anne Swanson within two weeks.
Swanson, who was 30 when she gave birth, originally wanted to give her placenta to a friend to be dried, ground into a powder and packed into capsules. She said she now plans to dry, store and eventually bury the organ instead of eating it.
”I hope this brings about a better awareness about the benefits of placenta,“ she said, citing a theory that placental hormones can help control postpartum blues.

Sperm donor beats lesbians

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) — A man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple won a legal fight yesterday to keep his biological son in Ireland.
The Supreme Court judgment was a first in Ireland, a predominantly Roman Catholic country where the rights of same-sex couples and sperm donors have not been spelled out. Now the couple, wed in a civil union ceremony in England, cannot spend long periods in Australia with their 14-month-old boy as planned, but can only vacation there for up to six weeks.
The lesbian couple — an Irish woman and an Australian — exchanged vows in January 2006, just after same-sex civil unions were legalized in the United Kingdom. The Irish woman was pregnant by the Irish sperm donor, who signed a contract giving him visitation rights.
The couple restricted the man's access to the boy, then announced they planned to go to Australia for up to a year. The man filed two lawsuits — one to restrict the trip and another seeking joint custody. The custody case is to be heard this fall.

Cheese truck melts down

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A tractor-trailer hauling blocks of cheese erupted in flames early yesterday, turning much of its cargo into freeway fondue.No one was hurt, but boxes containing hundreds of pounds of provolone, cheddar, American and other cheeses clogged the burned truck and littered the side of Interstate 80 north of downtown Sacramento.”It went pretty quick,“ said truck driver Frank Barker, who pulled over at 3:45 a.m. when he saw smoke coming from under his truck.Barker said he tried to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher, but the fire was too big. He gave up and rescued his dog, who was traveling with him from Salt Lake City to the San Francisco Bay area.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Judge punished for mistakenly sentencing extra caning

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A Singapore judge has been punished for mistakenly sentencing a prisoner to an extra three strokes of the cane, the Singapore government said Tuesday.
As a result of the error, Dickson Tan -- who was found guilty of helping an illegal moneylender and also sentenced to nine months in prison -- was caned eight times instead of five, Singapore's Law Minister, S. Jayakumar, was quoted as saying on the Law Ministry Web site.
Caning is a judicial practice in Singapore and is meted out for offences ranging from vandalism to illegal possession of drugs.
Offenders are strapped to an A-shaped wooden frame and lashed across the bare buttocks by a professional caner with a rattan rod.
Jayakumar said the district judge was "formally cautioned" and will not sign Warrants of Commitment -- court documents informing prison officials of prisoners' sentences -- in future.
The minister said the error arose after a court clerk entered the wrong sentence.
"Unfortunately, the sentencing district judge also did not spot the error," Jayakumar said on the website, adding the court clerk has since resigned.
Tan's mother is in talks with the government to seek monetary compensation of up to S$3 million ($2 million) over the mistake, according to local media.

Teen girls charged with setting cat on fire

COTATI, Calif. (AP) - A 3-month-old cat is clinging to life at a Sonoma County animal hospital after having been set on fire by two teenage girls who now face charges of animal cruelty.
The kitten, named Adam by hospital staff, has undergone two surgeries and had its tail and the tips of its ears amputated. The skin on its back was burned off in the attack, leaving nothing but raw tissue.
"The degree of injury is greater than our normal level of trauma that we care for," said Katheryn Hinkle, the head veterinarian and owner of the Animal Hospital of Cotati. "He's our most critical patient, and we're watching him constantly."
The cat, one of several feral felines trapped for spaying and neutering, was in a cage outside an apartment in Santa Rosa when two 15-year-old girls allegedly poured flammable liquid on the animal and set it on fire last month.
An 11-year-old boy and his friend saw the smoke and heard the cat, then eight weeks old, shrieking while the girls laughed. The girls, whose names have not been released, were charged with cruelty to animals in Sonoma County Juvenile Court last week.
With so much exposed skin, the cat is vulnerable to infection, Hinkle said. It cannot leave its cage and must be handled only with gloves. It will need several more surgeries to cover the wound on its back with skin.
The kitten was among six wild litter mates and a male cat captured by a trapper on a farm. The plan was to have the cats spayed and neutered and then released back to the farm. The cages with the kittens were stolen and only Adam has been found.
According to Hinkle, the bill to keep the kitten alive could run between $20,000 and $30,000 even though the vet performing its surgeries has donated her services. The community's concern for the cat has prompted anger in some Sonoma County residents, who complain that the slaying of a 16-year-old boy in the same neighborhood last year did not receive as much attention.

This is not Photoshop

Eclyse, a crossbreed between a zebra and a horse, standing in an enclosure at the zoo Safaripark Stukenbrock. Eclyse was born in a horse ranch in Italy, her mother is a chapmann-zebra, her father a brown-white horse. (AFP/HO)

It's a bird, it's a plane ... it's an unidentified flying metal object that crashed through our roof

BAYONNE, N.J. (AP) - A hunk of metal that crashed through the roof of a home has NASA, Federal Aviation Administration and New Jersey Transit officials scratching their heads.
The man who lives in the house was watching television Tuesday when he heard a crash and saw a cloud of dust. In the next room, he found a hunk of gray metal, 3 1/2 inches by 5 inches, with two hexagonal holes in it.
Experts say it's manmade, but nobody can say where it might have come from.
New Jersey Transit has railroad tracks about 100 feet from the house, but spokesman Dan Stessel said the object isn't something that would have flown off a train.
FAA officials said it wasn't a part that would have fallen from a plane headed into or out of nearby Newark Liberty International Airport.
"It doesn't look very `space-y,'" said Henry Kline, a spokesman for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's obviously made for something ... But we wouldn't know what to do with it."
U.S. Air Force Major Costas Leonidou at the Pentagon said he couldn't identify the fallen object, either. "It could be Air Force, Navy, Marines, commercial. It could be anything," he said.
Authorities in Bayonne, as well as the home's residents, just want to get it identified.
"It belongs to somebody," Police Director Mark Smith said.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Toddler addicted to hottest chili pepper on earth

India, July 10 (IANS) A 17-month-old toddler in Assam, India, happily devours the locally available scorching Bhut Jolokia, recognized by the Guinness World Records as the hottest chilli on earth.
The parents of Jayanta Lahan say the child gleefully munches a handful of Bhut Jolokia, the world's hottest chilli, without batting an eyelid.
'Yesterday, he ate some 50 Bhut Jolokias in about three to four hours without showing any signs of tears or burning sensation in his stomach,' the child's father Ritul, a farmer, told IANS.
The child, nicknamed Johnny, became hooked onto chillies when he was just about eight-months-old.
'I was cooking in my kitchen and Johnny was crawling on the floor when he laid his hands on some chillies and ate them. I cried for help but the kid was fine,' his mother Rupjyoti said.
Since then, little Johnny's appetite for chillies has grown and today he gobbles up handfuls of the fiery peppers with no effect on his health.
'When we visit homes of friends and relatives, the host offers Bhut Jolokia to the kid instead of toffees. If someone offers him a toffee, he pops it into his mouth and instantly takes it out,' the disbelieving parents said.
Even so, Johnny's parents are concerned and try to keep him away from his favourite munchies.
'We try to divert his mind away from chillies. At times it works but it seems he cannot live without eating it. We have consulted several doctors and carried out medical tests but we were told he is healthy and absolutely fine,' his father said.
The illiterate parents don't want to risk their child's health by going for world records.
'I am concerned about his health although doctors said his weight and growth is quite normal for his age. He even smears the chilli in his eyes without any problems,' Rupjyoti said.

Teenager loses her virginity ... (court battle)

LONDON (Reuters) - A teenager whose teachers had stopped her wearing a "purity ring" at school to symbolize her commitment to virginity lost a High Court fight against the ban Monday.
Lydia Playfoot, 16, says her silver ring is an expression of her faith and had argued in court that it should be exempt from school regulations banning the wearing of jewelry.
"I am very disappointed by the decision this morning by the High Court not to allow me to wear my purity ring to school as an expression of my Christian faith not to have sex outside marriage," Playfoot said in a statement.
"I believe that the judge's decision will mean that slowly, over time, people such as school governors, employers, political organizations and others will be allowed to stop Christians from publicly expressing and practicing their faith."
Playfoot's legal challenge was the latest in a series of disputes in British schools in recent years over the right of pupils to wear religious symbols or clothing, such as crucifixes and veils.
Last year, the Law Lords rejected Shabina Begum's appeal for permission to wear a Muslim gown at her school in Luton. That case echoed a debate in France over the banning of Muslim headscarves in state schools.
Playfoot's parents are key members of the British arm of the American chastity campaign group the Silver Ring Thing, a religious group which urges abstinence among young people.
Those who sign up wear a ring on the third finger of the left hand. It is inscribed with "Thess. 4:3-4," a reference to a Biblical passage from Thessalonians which reads: "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin."

Inevitable "Mice Invade China" update: They become Chinese food

BEIJING (Reuters) - Live rats are being trucked from central China, suffering a plague of a reported 2 billion rodents displaced by a flooded lake, to the south to end up in restaurant dishes, Chinese media reported.
Rats had been doing a roaring trade thanks to strong supply over the last two weeks, the China News Service quoted vendors as saying.
"Recently there have been a lot of rats... Guangzhou people are rich and like to eat exotic things, so business is very good," it quoted a vendor as saying, referring to the capital of Guangdong province, where people are reputed to eat anything that moves.
Some vendors, who declined to reveal their names, had asked people from a village in Hunan province, near Dongting Lake, to sell them live rats, the Beijing News said Monday.
"The buyers offered 6 yuan for a kg, but as to where they will sell the rats, they would not say," the newspaper quoted a local resident as saying, adding that villagers had to catch the rats alive.
"If we want to do that, there is no problem. We could catch 150 kg of rats in one night...but we will not do this against our conscience," the villager was quoted as saying.
Some Guangdong restaurants were promoting "rat banquets," charging 136 yuan ($18) for one kg of rat meat, the newspaper said.
But the restaurants denied their rats came from Hunan.
Local governments in Hunan have been grappling with the rats, which had already destroyed 1.6 million hectares (6,200 sq miles) of crops and could spread disease, according to media reports.
A lack of snakes, also a popular dish in the south, and owls, a traditional Chinese medicine, was held partly responsible.
Chinese media reported last week that some Internet users from Guangdong had offered rat recipes as a way to deal with the problem.
Scientists have also blamed China's massive Three Gorges Dam project and climate change for the Hunan rodents' flight to dry land.

Fight breaks out after deaf man's sign language mistaken for rude gesture

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A brawl involving five men apparently began over a misunderstanding when a man who is deaf and mute was communicating through sign language and another man took offense, thinking that the hand gestures were disrespectful. Police say what resulted was a brawl in which a gun was fired Sunday outside a pizza store in east Anchorage.
Raymond Keith McWain, 26, had just turned a corner in his car when he noticed a truck with three men alongside his car. The deaf man was communicating with the other two in the truck through sign language, police said.
McWain thought the sign language gestures were some sort of slight or "disrespect" toward him, police said. He made some gestures of his own and honked and cut in front of the truck before pulling into the pizza store. The men in the truck followed.
In the parking lot, McWain and the three men from the truck began pushing and shoving, police said. McWain's cousin, Daniel Harris, 20, who works at the pizza store, came out and began beating the deaf man as the deaf man's companions pummeled McWain.
Multiple shots were fired from at least one gun.
Police are looking into whether Harris pistol-whipped the deaf man. A shot might have gone off then, police spokesman Paul Honeman said.
The men from the truck left the parking lot.
When police arrived they found McWain lying in the parking lot bleeding heavily from his head and upper body, Honeman said. At first police thought he'd been shot, but it turned out his injuries were from being beaten and kicked. McWain was taken to a local hospital where he was listed in fair condition.
The deaf man also went to a hospital later that night for treatment.
Police found Harris crying, crouched near the front counter inside the pizza store, court documents said.
The only man arrested was Harris, who was charged with possession of methamphetamine. When police searched Harris they found several plastic baggies of meth, a glass pipe and $4,691 in his pockets, court documents said.
Harris' bail was set at $15,000. According to a public database

Real-life X-Files episode

CARBONDALE, Colo. (AP) - One doctor thought the bleeding, strange bumps on Aaron Dallas' head might have been a gnat bite. A specialist thought it was shingles, though both doctors held out the possibility that it was something far more disturbing. Then the bumps started moving.
A doctor found five bot fly larvae living on Dallas' head, near the top of his skull that after a few weeks after a mosquito apparently placed them there, had become active.
"I'd put my hand back there and feel them moving. I thought it was blood coursing through my head," said Dallas, of Carbondale.
"I could hear them. I actually thought I was going crazy."
Dallas said he likely received the larval infestation while on a trip to Belize this summer. Adult bot flies are hairy and look like bees, without bristles. One type, dermatobia hominis, attacks livestock, deer, and humans.
Mosquitoes, stable flies, and other insects are used by female bot flies to carry their eggs to the host, where in this case it was Dallas.
"It was weird and traumatic," said Dallas, of Carbondale. "I would get this pain that would drop me to my knees."
After a specialist told him he may have shingles, Dallas tried different creams and salves. But the pain got worse, so Dallas returned to Dr. Kimball Spence.
"When I saw him again, it was pretty obvious something else was going on," said Spence, who could see the spots moving on Dallas' head. "There's an open pit. You see a little activity, not necessarily the larvae, but a fluctuation of the fluid in the pit," Spence said.
The parasites, which were living in a pit 2- to 3- millimeters wide, were removed Thursday. His wife teases him about it now.
"It's much funnier to everyone else," Dallas said. "It makes my stomach turn over. It was cruel."
Spence said bot fly infections are fairly routine in parts of Central and South America.

That's just Mr. Ed

MODESTO, Calif. (AP) - A couple who kept a horse and seven dogs inside their home was arrested for endangering a 12-year-old child after officers found the floor covered in animal feces and rotting produce, authorities said.
While investigating a neighbor's complaint Monday, Modesto Police Animal Control Officer Jennifer Sol discovered the inside of Joe Silva and Nichole Surkala's house infested with flies so thick that Surkala's son had to sleep in a tent to escape them.
"There was nothing in my career that could have prepared me for what I came into," Sol said. "There were flies throughout. The ground had straw all over it. There were feces all over the kitchen. It was not pretty."
The child told her he slept in the tent inside his bedroom "because it was clean," according to Sol. Social workers removed him from the home and put him in protective custody, she said.
Surkala, 37, the boy's mother, and Silva, 30, the boy's stepfather, were arrested on felony child endangerment charges. Surkala posted $25,000 bail later Monday, while Silva remained in jail Tuesday.
The couple rented out the miniature horse for children's parties, and the produce that littered the dwelling was used to feed the animal, said Sgt. Ed. Steele.
"There was produce strewn all over the house, and the animals were defecating all over the house," Steele said. "They were living in it. You couldn't walk anywhere without stepping on the stuff."
Horses are not allowed to be kept anywhere — indoors or out — within Modesto city limits, according to Sol.
The dogs and the horse were taken to an animal shelter, but Silva and Surkala will be allowed to reclaim them, Sol said. The horse appeared to be in good condition, although the dogs looked to be in some distress, she said.

That's just wrong

A dog feeds two tiger cubs at the Changchun Zoo in Changchun, China's Jilin province Sunday, July 15 2007. The Dog provided by a local resident fed the cubs when the mother of the cubs failed to feed newborn tigers after giving birth. (AP Photo/Color China Photo)

Rugby player competes for months with foe's tooth lodged in forehead

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) - A rugby player in Australia kept competing for more than four months without realizing he had an opponent's tooth lodged in his forehead.

Ben Czislowski, a former National Rugby League prop playing for Brisbane team Wynnum, had a clash of heads with opposing forward Matt Austin during an April 1 match against Tweed Heads and had a headwound stitched up afterward, the Australian Associated Press reported Tuesday.

But Czislowski later suffered an eye infection and complained of lethargy and shooting pains in his head.A visit to his doctor last week revealed a tooth still imbedded in his head.

"I can laugh about it now, but the doctor told me it could have been serious, with teeth carrying germs," said Czislowski, who kept the tooth as a souvenir.

"I've got the tooth at home, sitting on the bedside table," he said. "If he (Austin) wants it back he can have it. I'm keeping it at the moment as proof that it actually happened.

"In 2004, Australian rugby league hooker Shane Millard also had an opponent's tooth removed from his head while playing for English club Widnes.

Two years earlier, Australian Jamie Ainscough's arm became so badly infected while playing for Wigan in England there were fears it would be amputated before the source — an imbedded tooth — was discovered.

Elephant vasectomist and other jobs you wouldn’t want

Popular Science’s “10 Worst Jobs in Science” this year (July issue) included the divers who scrub the walls of pits of sewage, toxins and nuclear waste; the elephant vasectomist (wielding a 4-foot-long laparoscope to deal with the 12-inch-wide testicles); carcass-preparers who ship cat, frog, shark and even cockroach bodies to be studied in science classes; the whale researcher who admitted she was “surprised” at “how much you could learn about a whale through its feces”; and the volunteers who lie still for up to 21 days to study the effects of weightlessness (for $2,000 a week).

HOLY COW! — Among the tax sweeteners offered by states to welcome relocating businesses is Texas’ easy-to-get farmland benefit. When the huge Fidelity Investments company bought a 300-acre plot near Dallas for a new office, it made sure to put 25 head of cattle on the land, which the Boston Herald found reduced its real-estate tax bill by about $360,000 a year under what it would pay without the cattle.
‘Farmer’ subsidies — In May, a coalition of Washington groups unveiled a searchable computer database listing agriculture subsidies by recipient, which revealed what such “farmers” as David Letterman and basketball player Scottie Pippen receive federal funds for incidental farm uses of their land.

COKED PIANO IS OFF-KILO — When a grand piano played an off-key note, drug police in this Caribbean port opened it up and found some 560 pounds of cocaine stuffed inside.
The piano was part of a shipment of household items originating in the capital of Bogota and destined for Panama, police said in a statement yesterday.
Authorities were investigating, but had made no arrests. The drugs’ value was estimated at $5 million.
Agents in Cartagena noticed the piano was suspiciously heavy and decided to tap some keys, only to find the sound quality seemed strange, the statement said. The cocaine was discovered packed into various recesses of the instrument.
Colombia produces about 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States, most of which is trafficked through Mexico and Central America.

Surrounded by cops, man calls 911 for help

LARGO, Fla. (AP) - A 38-year-old man was arrested after he called 911 and told a dispatcher he was surrounded by police officers and needed help, authorities said.
Police officers met Dana Farrell Shelton after being called to investigate a disturbance at a bar on Sunday but had found no problems and told him to move along.
Shelton, who officers said appeared intoxicated, then called 911 to report he was "surrounded by Largo police," according to an arrest affidavit.
"Our officers were standing there scratching their heads. He called, standing there in their presence," Largo Sgt. Melanie Holley said. "It's one of our 'truth is stranger than fiction' cases."
Shelton was charged with misdemeanor misuse of 911. The charge carries maximum penalties of one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

And Trenton's own version of the story ... Woman involved in armed standoff with police calls 911 to complain about tear gas.

Betel nut-flavored condom is tops in India

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian firm has launched a paan-flavoured condom designed to evoke the pungent taste of the betel nut and tobacco concoction chewed and then spat out by millions of South Asians, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
Hindustan Latex is targeting the new condom range at prostitutes, who are among the most vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS, the Hindustan Times reported.
The company ran taste tests with sex workers, including prototypes with chocolate, banana and strawberry flavours, but the paan flavour came out tops.
"The community loved it as most of the sex workers chew paan," Sanjeev Gaikwad was quoted as saying at the launch in Mumbai. Gaikwad is a director at Family Health International, a public health organisation that helped develop the condom.
Paan is a mildly intoxicating preparation wrapped in a leaf, usually containing tobacco, betel nut and flavourings, and is hugely popular across South Asia. It is chewed to a mouth-staining red pulp before being spat out.
The condoms will at first be made available only to prostitutes, but will we launched to the general public in a few months, the newspaper said.

I'm too sexy for this bus

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus in the southern town of Lindau because he said she was too sexy, a newspaper reported on Monday.
"Suddenly he stopped the bus," the woman named Debora C. told Bild newspaper. "He opened the door and shouted at me 'Your cleavage is distracting me every time I look into my mirror and I can't concentrate on the traffic. If you don't sit somewhere else, I'm going to have to throw you off the bus.'"
The woman, pictured in Bild wearing her snug-fitting summer clothes with the plunging neckline, said she moved to another seat but was humiliated by the bus driver.
A spokesman for the bus company defended the driver.
"The bus driver is allowed to do that and he did the right thing," the spokesman said. "A bus driver cannot be distracted because it's a danger to the safety of all the passengers."

Hunka, hunka Elvis vision

LaDell Alexander displays a rock with an image resembling Elvis Presley, circled, July 12, 2007, in Estes Park, Colo. Placed next to the rock is a photo of Elvis Presley. Alexander, 60, plans to sell it on eBay on the 30th anniversary of Presley's death. (AP Photo/The Coloradoan, Mariwan Hama-Saeed)

Monday, July 16, 2007

New funeral director's first customer is own father

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. (AP) - As a new funeral director, Lori Davis prepared for the first person she would embalm and bury in her new position. That turned out to be her own father.
Shortly after she became funeral director at the Rock of Ages Funeral Chapel, her 68-year-old father, Emory Hadley Jr., was fatally stabbed in his bed July 5.
Davis said embalming her father herself was important, though she sometimes had to leave her work half-finished and drive around listening to gospel music to calm her emotions.
"It's bringing people back to life for me," Davis said of her work.
Davis had her father's dark blue casket surrounded by hundreds of sunflowers, daisies and roses at his burial Saturday. Before saying goodbye, she folded a baby blue blanket by his feet and adjusted his formal black jacket.
A nephew of Hadley has been charged with first degree murder. Police said the two men had a fight.

Waltzing class, then puppy love, then bad grades

SHANGHAI, China (AP) - Chinese educators are toning down plans to teach students to waltz after parents said they worried about puppy love and falling grades, local media reported Monday.
The revised dance steps allow students to dance by themselves or in large groups, the Xinhua News Agency said, without explaining exactly how that would work.
"They don't have to dance with specific partners, which will be more easily accepted by both students and their parents," Yin Guochen, an official with the State General Administration of Sports, was quoted as saying.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

If the chastity belt doesn't work ...

A model parades an outfit made of condoms during a fashion show at the 4th China Reproductive Health New Technologies and Products Expo in Beijing July 11, 2007. Condoms of all shapes and sizes were on show at a Beijing fashion show on Wednesday featuring dresses, hats and even lollipops made of the said item. Models fought through extravagant soap bubble special effects to show off tight-fitting wedding gowns, scaly-looking evening dresses, outrageous bikinis and other garments made entirely of condoms. (Claro Cortes IV/Reuters)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Really huge guy, meet really tiny guy

The world's tallest man, Bao Xishun, who stands 7 feet and 9 inches, shakes hands with He Pingping, who only measures 2 feet and 5 inches,in Baotou, China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Friday, July 13, 2007. Nineteen-year-old He is applying for the Guinness World Record as the world's shortest man. (AP Photo)

Nude jogger always wears reflective tape

DETROIT (AP) — A man who was sentenced to 30 days in jail for taking his daily run while wearing only a stocking cap, gloves and reflective tape said that the nude jogging made him ”feel alive,“ according to police.
Russell Rotta, 49, told police that he had been running naked since he was a teenager and that he generally woke up each day around 4 a.m. to conceal the activity from his wife.
Rotta reported running in the nude six miles a day every day, weather permitting. ”That is the one wild, crazy thing that I do that makes me feel alive,“ police quoted him as saying.
Rotta pleaded guilty to a charge of indecent exposure May 22 and received 24 months probation and $1,500 in fines.
Rotta was arrested early April 4 after a caller reported seeing a naked man running in the southbound lane of U.S. Highway 127 in Blackman Township, about 70 miles west of Detroit.

Real men of genius

MADRID, Spain (AP) — Two American brothers were seriously gored during the famous bull run in the Spanish city of Pamplona.
Michael Lenahan, 23, of Philadelphia, and his brother, Lawrence Lenahan, 26, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., were gored Thursday.
Michael , a sales executive for General Mills, was injured shortly before making it to the bullring — the end point of the daily runs. The bull‘s horn broke through the skin on his right shin.
The older Lenahan suffered an 8-inch wound in the left buttock.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stupid criminals

LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINAL: In May, the inept Christopher Emmorey, 23, was sentenced to two years in prison for robbing a Peterborough, Ontario, bank, from which he had intended to take $2,000. However, the teller said she could only give him $200 and also must take out a $5 fee because Emmorey is not a regular customer. Emmorey stood stoically while she did the paperwork and then handed him $195, which he took and walked away (only to be arrested a short time later).

KNOW WHAT YOU PAID FOR: The sheriff‘s office in Clyman, Wis., reported that a man called 911 on April 21, alarmed that he had just paid $20 to a woman at a club after a lap dance and then realized that she was not the one who had danced for him.

FINE POINTS OF THE LAW: Thomas Wimberly, 74, was arrested in July 2006 for stealing two hot dogs (value: $2.11, including tax) from a Quik Trip convenience store in Wichita, Kan. (though he said he had merely forgotten to pay). Because it was Wimberly‘s third misdemeanor theft charge, Kansas law required that the count be upgraded to a felony. Wimberly could not immediately make bail, and in fact was incarcerated for 71 days before his trial (once being subject to a bond of $100,000), but prosecutors insisted on a trial. In April 2007, a jury of 12 people (reportedly angry at having been called to such an insignificant case) found Wimberly not guilty. (The penalty, according to state law, if he had been convicted, was 12 months‘ probation.)

MEMORABLE BONG: In May, a woman in Jacksonville, Ill., reported the theft of a bong from her house; she told police that she valued it because it belonged to her son, who is in prison, and it is all she had to remember him by.

RIGHT OF FREE SPEECH: In May, a jury in Weld County, Colo., declined to hold Kathleen Ensz accountable for leaving a flier containing her dog‘s droppings on the doorstep of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, apparently agreeing with Ensz that she was merely exercising free speech.

- News of the Weird, Universal Press Syndicate

Two billion mice attack China

BEIJING (AP) — Nearly a half-million people fled a flood zone surrounding central China's swollen Huai River, while high waters in the south unleashed a plague of 2 billion field mice.
Authorities in Hunan were on alert yesterday for rodent-related diseases after launching a massive extermination of field mice, driven from their holes by floodwaters. Residents rushed to contain and kill an estimated 2 billion mice that ravaged crops in 22 counties.
China Central Television showed Yiyang city residents beating the rodents to death with clubs and shovels. Some were scooped from lakeside ditches with fishing nets, and many others were poisoned.
Residents had killed more than 2.3 million mice — 90 tons of them — since June 21. The dead mice were covered with lime and buried in deep pits to prevent the spread of disease. There were no reports yet of disease, but an estimated 1,000 cats died in Hunan's Binhu village after eating poisoned mice.

These cats know how to use the can

LOMBARD, Ill. (AP) — Liz Lerch loves cats, but not having to clean their mess out of a litter box, or spending hundreds of dollars on litter over the life of a cat.
So when she got two 4-month-old kittens from a shelter, she vowed to train them to use the toilet in her Lombard home.
Following advice from the book, ”How to Toilet Train Your Cat,“ Lerch put cardboard over the toilet, then a plastic planter holder with a hole in the middle of the bottom, filled with litter. She gradually removed the litter and widened the hole, until there was no litter and the hole was as big as the bowl.
Each time cats Carl and Stewie used the potty, she gave them positive reinforcement — praise, petting, play or food.
There were mishaps of course, but those were blamed on an unfortunate bout of irritable bowel syndrome. After nine months of practice, the cats now use the toilet on their own and seem perfectly happy. And, yes, humans use that toilet too.
Some visitors, like a guy who worked on Lerch‘s garage door, are a little freaked out by her cats‘ routine, but most of her friends had a positive reaction.
”My friends all want to see it happen,“ she said. ”They think it's cool, and want to know why nobody toilet trained their cats.“
Toilet training cats is not new. Jazz musician Charles Mingus wrote publicly about training his cat decades ago. The practice got more recent boosts from a toilet-trained Jinx in the movie ”Meet the Parents“ and coverage at online sites like Craigslist or
Cat owners can buy kits from outfits like, which sells toilet-training covers for cats. Some owners even train their cats to flush by putting a toy on the handle.
Lerch‘s cats get wet sometimes splashing the water with their paws, but they‘ve never fallen in.
Still, not everyone is jumping on the toilet-training bandwagon. Some people don‘t want to share a toilet with a cat or find their unflushed presents.

World's tallest man weds woman more than 2 feet shorter

BEIJING (AP) - The world's tallest man married a woman who's two-thirds his height and half his age, holding a traditional Mongolian ceremony Thursday with great fanfare at the tomb of Kublai Khan.
Bao Xishun, a 7-foot-9 herdsman from Inner Mongolia, met his bride earlier this year after searching high and low, sending advertisements around the world. It turns out he didn't have to look far - 5-foot-6 saleswoman Xia Shujian hails from his hometown of Chifeng.
Bao wore a specially designed light blue gown topped with a gold vest, and rode to his bride's camp in front of the tomb in a cart pulled by two camels, AP Television News reported. A limo followed the cart.
In keeping with Mongolian tradition, the bride's attendants tried to "stop" Bao from getting into the camp. But they relented after the giant groom's sincere appeals, and he was offered tea by the bride's relatives, symbolizing that he had been accepted into her family.
He did not kowtow to his parents and in-laws because of his extraordinary height and arthritis in his knees, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Bao, 56, and Xia, 28, married in a civil ceremony in March. This time, more than 2,000 people turned out for the ceremonial nuptials, including relatives, locals and a large crowd of journalists.
Bao was confirmed last year by Guinness World Records as the world's tallest person. Xinhua said his growth was normal until age 16, when a growth spurt shot him up to his current height within seven years.
He was in the news in December after he used his long arms to save two dolphins by pulling plastic out of their stomachs.
The dolphins got sick after nibbling on plastic from the edge of their pool at an aquarium in Liaoning province. Attempts to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic failed because the dolphins' stomachs contracted in response to the instruments, Chinese media reported.

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Girls Gone Wild